Can a parent be arrested for not paying child support?
Yes, but usually the court will first try other methods to get the parent to pay. For example, a court can:
suspend a parent's driver's license
suspend a parent's professional license
suspend a person's law, medical or any other kind of license issued by the state; and
even suspend a parent's passport to keep them from travelling overseas.
The court can order child support arrears to be a lien on a person's real estate, which can prevent a refinance or sale. The parent would have to pay the arrears at closing. The arrears also appear on credit reports, which can affect a parent's credit score.
Then, of course, the court can also throw the parent into jail as a deadbeat dad by issuing a bench warrant for contempt of the court's order. Once the parent is in custody, the court will hold a hearing and set up an amount that has to be paid for the parent to be released, which is usually some portion of the amount of arrears the parent owes. This is called the purge amount. The parent also has to come up with a reasonable plan to pay the rest in a relatively short period of time .
What if the paying parent is deliberately not working or reducing his income?
Some paying parents are slick and think if they don't have the money, they don't have to pay it. The court knows this trick, and knows that some parents underreport or hide income. If a parent deliberately reduces his income, the court uses the Child Support Guidelines to "impute" income to the party - i.e., . what the "deadbeat dad" day should be earning if they weren't playing tricks.. The court looks at the parent's potential earning capacity, educational background, job qualifications, work history, and considers the parent's former employment to impute income based on the average salary for that job.